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05/26/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) –  Three Christian converts from Fardis were charged on May 5 under Article 500 of the Penal Code, and the first known Christians facing these charges since the amendments in February. Amin Khaki, Milad Goodarzi, and Alireza Nourmohammadi were charged with “engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam”.

In November 2020 the homes of the three men, along with nine other Christian families, were raided. No arrests were made at the time but Christian literature and personal items were confiscated. Then, in early 2021, intelligence officials interrogated one member of each family. The interrogations ended with them being forced to sign a commitment to not gather together, whether in person or online. This was reportedly the first instance that mandated no online or social gatherings. Iranian Christians often are forced to sign agreements to abstain from gathering at house churches. Now the three men have been officially charged, though the remaining families have also faced threats of imprisonment and employment restrictions.

The amendments made to Iran’s Penal Code in February 2021, specifically Article 499 and Article 500, concerned many about the implications for Christians. Both articles discuss “anti-security groups” and “propaganda”. Christians may face even harsher legal persecution as a result, particularly in light of the candidate for Iran’s upcoming presidential election.

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